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11_09_2019_tecnun_jon-garcia-publica-trabajo-intranet-mit

"If something motivates you a lot, if you set a goal and work towards it, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to".

Alumnus Jon García Urbieta publishes his work on the MIT intranet

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The alumnus of Tecnun, Jon García Urbieta, at MIT PHOTO: Courtesy
11/09/19 15:18 Communication Service

Jon García Urbieta, a former student of the Master's Degree in Industrial Engineering at Tecnun, has been invited this summer to the Graduation Ceremony at MIT by those who were his colleagues at the Space Propulsion Lab last year. Urbieta spent a year developing a Master Thesis in research in Boston, and it was undoubtedly one of the best experiences of his life.

"At MIT they are working on what they think is going to be the technology of the future, the technology that will be around 10 or 20 years from now. You see energy departments working on fusion, audiovisual labs working on the next platform to the smartphone... They are constantly asking themselves what's going to be next. They want to be the first and are working on technological projects with a great social impact," says García Urbierta. When he recalls how he gained admission to this prestigious university, he repeats something he learned during his time at Tecnun: "If something motivates you a lot, you set yourself a goal and you work towards it, you can achieve everything you set your mind to. My experience at Tecnun has been very good, you notice a big difference from when you start your first year and when you leave with the Master's. It allows you to make a click that prepares you for your future. It allows you to make a click that prepares you for the professional world", she says with a smile.

Since the third year of his degree Jon knew he wanted to work at MIT. "When I finished my Master's degree, I got the opportunity to have an interview in Boston, even though I knew it was not safe. But I saw that they were interested in meeting me, I learned to get rid of that fear, and in the end, I got the admission", continues Jon.

"My project consisted of characterising and testing potential propellants (ionic liquids) for electrospray ion propellants," explains the former student at Tecnun. "It is about electric propulsion for CubeSats, small satellites. The function of these thrusters is to perform attitude control (high-precision manoeuvres once in space). I was able to work with and analyse the ionic liquids used to generate this propulsion, in particular some very special ones. I was the first in the world to test several of them".

All his work is documented in an extensive archive. When he returned from his Boston adventure, he wanted to analyse the work carried out, the tools used and the results obtained, establishing a reference methodology. And, recently, he has received the news that this document is going to be published on the intranet of the MIT laboratory where he was working. He is excited to admit that his tutor and director of the lab has told him that the lines of research he left open would give rise to future theses. "It makes me very excited to hear that, and also that my colleagues have referenced my work," he continues humbly.

García Urbieta working in the laboratory

Urbieta currently works in the electric motors department at GKN Automotive and his work is related to the work he did at MIT in the area of electric propulsion. "The fact of having been at MIT gives you prestige, not only because it is considered one of the best universities in the world, but also because of the experience gained. The opportunity to work and learn from the best in the world in the field, to work in diverse teams developing cross-cultural and multidisciplinary skills and the feeling of opening your mind, getting a very complete vision."

Urbieta insists on the experience acquired in Boston, which he undoubtedly put to good use right from the start. His versatility led him to combine his research project with different activities. He was part of the MIT football team, winning the runner-up position in the state cup. He participated in a Design Hackathon on the cities of the future, reaching the final and presenting his work to world experts such as Don Norman, contributed to the organisation of a Blockchain conference, attended various talks, including one by the renowned astronaut Scott Tingle, and gave sessions on mechanical and thermal design with finite element tools in the design programme for a CubeSat under the name Misión Colibrí, in collaboration with Professor Álvaro Lleó in the area of team management, with students from the Universidad Panamericana (UP). He also took the Space Propulsion course at MIT's AeroAstro graduate school, obtaining an excellent grade. And, as if that were not enough, at Harvard University he took a subject more closely linked to business, to complete the technical part with a Management profile.

Today, when asked about his future, he answers that he sees himself working in a sector that is in full swing, as is currently the case with the electrification of the automotive industry. "I see myself working at the cutting edge of technology because it gives you the opportunity to learn a lot," concludes the young engineer. 

He has recently been invited to the 36th International Electric Propulsion Conference to be held in Vienna next September, as part of the MIT Space Propulsion Lab team.

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